JLF Research Archive

Showing items 426 to 450 of 597

(3.01.06) Breaking the 'Hockey Stick': Global Warming's Latest Brawl

Evidence from throughout the world shows that the planet was relatively warm 1,000 years ago during the Medieval Warm Period and relatively cold 500 years ago during the Little Ice Age. When the 1°C (1.8°F) of global warming of the past 100 years is considered in the context of climate variability of the last 1,000 years, the recent warming looks quite natural and nothing out of the ordinary. In 2001, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change prominently featured an important graph of northern hemispheric temperatures over the past 1,000 years, and the plot resembled a hockey stick. This same graph was recently highlighted in testimony to the North Carolina Legislative Commission on Climate Change.

(2.15.06) A Lottery That Helps Students: How Lottery Proceeds Should Be Spent for Education

As the law is currently written, the education lottery will do little to fund the most critical needs of North Carolinas students. Too much of the revenue will be used for unproven class-size reduction efforts and pre-kindergarten programs. Too little of the lottery revenue will be given to school districts and charter schools that have critical school facilities needs. The General Assembly can maximize the educational benefit of the lottery revenue by distributing more funds for capital expenditures to high-growth school districts and to charter schools.

(2.06.06) The Political Spending Cycle: Spending Binges Lead to High-Tax Hangovers

State tax revenues grow in strong economies. Politicians use the new revenue to create or expand government programs. In recessions, revenues fall and tax rates rise to pay for the higher level of spending. Spending and taxes in the last ten years illustrate this pattern. As North Carolina enters another period of expanding revenues, Gov. Mike Easley and the General Assembly must avoid the temptation to increase spending so they do not have to increase taxes in the next recession.

(2.06.06) A Threat to Private Property: N.C.s Broad and Subjective Urban Redevelopment Law

North Carolinas Urban Redevelopment Law is a major threat to private property rights. It is so broad that it would permit the government to seize private property that is not blighted and even to take property for economic-development purposes. Any urban redevelopment law should only permit the government to seize private property if it meets a narrow and common sense definition of blight.

(2.01.06) By The Numbers 2006: What Government Costs in North Carolina Cities and Counties

County and municipal governments provide many key services while taking in billions in revenue. Their roles grow ever greater as state government shifts more taxing power to localities to make up for money kept by the state. Still, finding comparative data is hard. That's why this report provides information of how much local government costs in every city and county in NC.

(1.18.06) State Cant Change the Weather: Even Global CO2 Reductions Have Little Impact

Dr. Thomas Wigley from the U.S. National Center for Scientific Research has calculated that if the Kyoto Protocol were implemented with 100% compliance it would reduce the increase in global temperatures by between 0.18º F and 0.37º F in 100 years. This amount would be undetectable by standard measuring devices. It is unreasonable therefore to expect that North Carolina, acting along or in consort with other states, could do anything to mitigate future global warming.

(1.10.06) Honey, I Shrunk the Class!: How Reducing Class Size Fails to Raise Student Achievement

In November, the State Board of Education released the final report of the High Priority Schools Initiative, a four-year, $23 million class-size reduction program targeting low-performing and low-income elementary schools. The report offered no statistical evidence that smaller class sizes raised student achievement. Between the first and final year of the program, fewer schools met their state ABC growth targets and even fewer made Adequate Yearly Progress under the federal No Child Left Behind law. Reduced class sizes failed to significantly increase student performance on state reading assessments. In the future, legislators and policymakers should not fund class-size initiatives because of their expediency or popularity but because they produce measurable gains in student achievement.

(1.06.06) A Model Amendment: Protecting North Carolinians property rights

North Carolina needs a constitutional amendment to protect property rights that will contain very specific language. This approach will ensure that courts are unable to undermine the rights that the amendment is designed to protect. The amendment should define key terms such as public use and expressly prohibit all takings for private use, including those for economic development purposes.

(1.04.06) N.C.'s Gas Tax Can Be Cut; Road Construction Wouldn't Be Harmed

State leaders claim that capping the gas tax at 27.1 cents per gallon would cost the state up to $135 million a year in road construction. They are wrong. The state will be just $5.3 million behind projections planned for in this years budget if it freezes the gas tax. Furthermore, nearly $400 million in gas tax revenues goes toward spending that has nothing to do with road construction. The General Fund, public transportation, railroads, and airlines all receive gas-tax revenues. There is no need to take money from road construction so long as gas-tax revenues are diverted to unrelated programs.

(12.21.05) Solving Asheville's Civic Center Dilemma: Making Lemonade Out of a Lemon

The Asheville Civic Center is deteriorating and has lost nearly $1 million a year since 2000. The Asheville City Council convened a task force to find a solution. This report offers a solution not currently in the public discussion: sell the Civic Center to a private company.

(12.19.05) End All Tax Biases: Report on Tax Expenditures Misses Half the Story

North Carolinas tax code distorts economic activity. It penalizes the investment, savings, and entrepreneurship needed for economic growth. But the latest report on taxes from the Department of Revenue only looks at ways the tax code does not bring in as much money as it could.

(12.15.05) Health Savings Accounts: Consumer-Driven Health Care for North Carolina Public Employees and Teachers

HSAs are a form of medical savings account, similar to the now-familiar IRAs. These accounts are the property of the employee and can accumulate interest and dividends like other savings vehicles. Funds that are not used for health care-related expenses can be used for retirement living and can also be willed to one’s heirs. When combined with a high-deductible health insurance policy, an HSA replaces traditional health insurance coverage – and does so in a way that results in a more consumer-driven approach to health care.

(12.05.05) Unsteady Ground: A Survey of North Carolina Business Leaders on Competitiveness, Taxes, and Reform

A new survey of North Carolina’s most politically active business executives suggests that they disagree with the current direction of public policy in the state. A sample of over 600 respondents from every region of North Carolina answered questions about fiscal policy, education, transportation, tax rates, regulation, and ways to improve economic competitiveness. This report provides data not only from the statewide sample, but also from six regional subgroups: the Research Triangle (RTP), the Piedmont Triad (WNC), the Charlotte area, Northeastern North Carolina, Southeastern North Carolina, and Western North Carolina.

(11.28.05) Certificate-of-Need Laws: It's Time for Repeal

In North Carolina and 34 other states, if you are a health care entrepreneur and you want to do anything from adding a new wing or extra beds to an existing hospital, to opening an office that offers MRI or other services, you need a “Certificate of Need” from the state. If this sounds like the kind of central planning one might find in a socialist economy – it is. In North Carolina, the central planning authority is known as the Health Planning Development Agency, part of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. The role of this agency is to plan economic activity provided by medical-care facilities. This is done down to the most minute detail, circumventing the most basic function of private decision-making in a free enterprise system, i.e., the allocation of resources based on entrepreneurial insight and risk taking.

(11.21.05) Carve the Medicaid Turkey: State Should Eliminate County Share of Medicaid in Five Years

North Carolina is the only state in which counties pay a fixed percentage of Medicaid costs. Counties have no control over how they spend up to 15 percent of their general fund budget and 39 percent of their property tax revenues. Six counties spend more on Medicaid than on education. Program expansions and higher medical costs have pushed Medicaids share of county budgets up an average of 18 percent in five years. The General Assembly should act on the recommendation of its own Blue Ribbon Commission on Medicaid Reform to cap and reduce what counties must contribute to Medicaid.

(11.17.05) Government Trade Restraints: How N.C. Hurts Consumers by Restricting Competition

North Carolina recently filed a lawsuit going after private restraints of trade. But if the state really wants to reduce unfair trade practices and help consumers, it should eliminate or modify its own anti-competitive policies. The certificate of need law, occupational licensing, and other state-imposed restraints of trade hurt consumers and the economic freedom of North Carolinians.

(11.09.05) Lopsided Commission: North Carolinas Global Warming Commission Lacks Expertise

The North Carolina Global Warming Commission is tasked with examining the relationship between greenhouse gases and climate change, but only one of its 16 members so far is a climate scientist. It is also supposed to study the economic impact of climate change and policy proposals, but none of its members are economists. Rather than experts, the commissioned is stocked with representatives of environmental pressure groups and particular industries. Such a commission is unlikely to propose reasonable, scientifically sound policies and far more likely instead to advance their own ideologies and bottom lines.

(10.28.05) Learning About Teacher Pay: North Carolina already ranks 11th in compensation

Governor Easley announced that North Carolina will raise its average teacher salary to the national average in three years. Adjusted for cost of living, pension contribution, and teacher experience, however, the states average teacher salary ranks 11th in the nation and is about $1,600 above the national average. There is no evidence to support the governors contention that a higher average salary will aid in recruiting and retaining a high-quality teacher workforce or will make students more competitive in the global economy. A system of merit-based pay would provide an incentive for highly qualified individuals to enter and stay in the teaching profession.

(10.24.05) Bring Out Your Trash: Wake Countys Dilemma and Why Solid Waste Markets Matter

Many cities and counties in North Carolina and throughout the nation have benefited from the ongoing revolution in solid waste management. Competition in the private sector has led to larger landfills that are better for the environment and less expensive. Only seven North Carolina counties have failed to take advantage of the market in landfill services. When the North Wake County landfill closes in 2007, the county should not replace it with a new county-owned facility. Instead, it should allow cities and towns to find the best value for their citizens in the landfill market.

(10.20.05) Citizens Guide to Local Spending in Charlotte

City and county government cost on average $3,804 per capita in Charlotte during fiscal year 2004, from July 2003 to July 2004. This was 28.1 percent higher than the $2,969 (constant 2004 dollars) per capita spent in fiscal year 1994. For comparison, real per capita personal income increased just 13 percent over the same period, from $24,926 to $28,235. Most of the increased expenditures were for operations, which climbed 23.2 percent to $2,766 in fiscal 2004. Char-Meck’s high capital spending climbed 43 percent over the decade, to $1,038 in fiscal 2004.

(10.17.05) Property Rights After Kelo: North Carolina Needs a New Constitutional Amendment

The United States Supreme Courts opinion in Kelo v. City of New London drastically weakened the property rights of all citizens. North Carolinians can protect themselves by amending the state constitution. An amendment is necessary because state legislation does not provide adequate protection of property rights. All fundamental rights, especially property rights, should be protected in the states highest law, the state constitution.

(10.06.05) The Certification Myth: Teacher certification does not improve student performance

Like other states, North Carolina maintains a system of certification and licensing for public school teachers. Proponents of the system argue that certification standards will separate good teachers from poor ones, but there is no evidence that these standards determine teacher quality. A state-by-state comparison of teacher certification and student performance on the most recent National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) mathematics exam shows that certification standards and teacher testing did not improve test scores. Schools should be able to recruit and retain talented teachers whether they are certified or not.

(9.28.05) Building for the Future: The School Enrollment Boom in North Carolina

Multi-million dollar bond referendums and tax increases will not repair the damage done by years of inadequate school facilities planning. With construction and labor costs rising, massive school building programs, such as the one proposed by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS), will exert a crippling tax burden on local communities.

(9.26.05) Citizens Guide to Local Spending in Wilmington

City and county government cost on average $2,863 per capita in Wilmington during fiscal year 2004. This cost was 42 percent higher than Wilmington's per-capita spending in 1994. As real per-capita personal income increased just 13 percent over the 10-year study period, operations costs climbed 35 percent and capital spending nearly doubled over the decade. No large city in North Carolina had faster spending growth than Wilmington did.

(9.07.05) Auto Dealer Protectionism: State Limitations on Dealer Competition Should Be Eliminated

North Carolina law limits the establishment and relocation of new-vehicle dealerships in relevant market areas where the same make of car is sold. This law was enacted due to the belief that dealers were in an unequal bargaining position with manufacturers. This rationale is now obsolete. Research also indicates that such laws hurt consumers. No justification exists to continue granting special privileges to dealers, especially when those privileges come at the expense of the public.

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